Allowing users to create objects from simple toys to custom prosthetic parts, plastics are a popular 3-D printing material. But these printed parts are mechanically weak—a flaw caused by the imperfect bonding between the individual printed layers that make up the 3-D part.

Researchers at Texas A&M University, in collaboration with scientists in the company Essentium, Inc. have now developed the technology needed to overcome 3-D printing's "weak spot." By integrating plasma science and technology into standard 3-D printing, the researchers welded adjacent printed layers more effectively, increasing the overall reliability of the final part.

"Finding a way to remedy the inadequate bonding between printed layers has been an ongoing quest in the 3-D printing field," said Micah Green, associate professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering. "We have now developed a sophisticated technology that can bolster welding between these layers all while printing the 3-D part."

Their findings were published in the February issue of the journal Nano Letters.

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